“Was Saul a saved man?” asks one of our readers. That is, was Saul a deeply backslidden believer or was he of the seed of the serpent? Augustine rightly states that Saul “certainly was reprobated (City of God, 17.6). As Israel’s first king. Saul’s iniquity is especially evident in his sins against God’s kingdom. Two sins early in Saul’s reign led to his forfeiting the kingdom. Prior to a battle with the Philistines, Saul offered the sacrifice before Samuel’s return, contrary to God’s command (I Sam. 13:8-14). Later he disobeyed Jehovah by refusing to slay all the Amalekites and their beasts (ch. 15). Saul would not rule according to God’s word, therefore God took the throne from him to give it to the man after His own heart, David (13:14).
Saul was “David’s enemy continually” (lit. “all his days;” 18:29) for he knew he would succeed him as king. Twice Saul tried to smite David with his spear (18:11; 19:10). He contrived to have the Philistines kill him in battle (18:17, 25). He planned to seize David on leaving his house and execute him (19:11-17). David escaped to Samuel and then hid in forests and in caves (19:18ff.). Even then Saul pursued David and sought to kill him. So great was Saul’s hatred that anyone seen to favor David was suspect. Thus Saul ordered Doeg the Edomite to slay 85 priests and their families at Nob (22:17-19) and Saul even attempted to take Jonathan’s life (20:33). Jonathan pleaded with his father for David (19:4-7) and David twice spared Saul’s life (ch. 24, 26) but after a brief cessation Saul resumed his efforts to assassinate David.
Saul lived and died hating David, the man after God’s heart. I John 3:15 reads, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” One of Saul’s last acts was to consult a witch (1 Sam. 28) which is forbidden in God’s law (Deut. 18:14). He exited this world a suicide like Ahithophel, Zimri and Judas Iscariot, with God’s judgment upon him (1 Chron. 10:13).
But did not God give Saul “another heart” and thereby make him “another man” (I Sam. 10:6-9)? Yes, but “another” heart” is different from the “new heart.” Those whom God gives a new heart He causes to walk in His statutes and keep His judgments (Eze. 36:26-27). Saul did not keep God’s statutes. Thus he never received a new heart. God gave another heart to Saul to equip him to rule in his office as king. Saul began life a mere Israelite citizen but with the Spirit upon him he prophesied (I Sam. 10:6-13) and was empowered to lead an army to victory thus consolidating his kingdom (11:6-15).
That Saul was an unbeliever is important for a right understanding of the narrative in I Samuel 9-31, ruling out the misapplication of Saul’s life to backsliding Christians. It is also important for the typology involved. In Saul’s continual murderous assaults on David we see Satan’s hellish attack on Christ and His kingdom. But God defends and preserves His church! This preservation also keeps even the weakest believer from living like Saul in hatred of Christ whom David typifies.
- Volume: 8
- Issue: 20
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851